The simple ways Topman is thinking about a personalised customer experience

Topman's student prices toggle on its homepage

Topman’s student prices toggle on its homepage

Topman’s global digital director, Gareth Rees-John, took to the stage at Shoptalk Europe this week with a welcome reminder of the things it’s possible to do without huge budgets.

He noted how many retailers are still operating on legacy systems with “jumbled data” making it hard to move forward fast, and said his focus is on “making little changes that have robust business cases”.

The key, he said, is about doing things the retail board will understand – referring to Sir Phillip Green as an owner that is becoming increasingly tech savvy but still at his roots a traditional shopkeeper – and said it’s about nudging people along.

He highlighted three simple ways his team is personalising the e-commerce experience for shoppers in order to help drive conversions.

The first is dedicated to students. A simple switch at the top of the website, facilitated by SaaS company Qubit, enables users to toggle all products to student prices – a 10% discount. “Normally we see 38% of spend on the website is with students, when we do this then we see 50%, so it’s huge – just by taking the friction out,” Rees-John explained.

The second he said is about personalising the website based on geography. “We see trends in the data as to what people are buying and where. Sterotypically, for instance, we don’t sell as many coats in [the northern city of] Newcastle – it’s all lads in short sleeve shirts – compared to in the south-east.” So the website is set up to over-show on categories where they do sell.

The last pulls in artificial intelligence: Canadian company Granify helps optimise Topman’s conversion rates by serving different messages to shoppers when they are at flight risk. The notifications use machine learning to address issues that will help retain the individual in question, such as letting them know an item is low in stock, as one example. It’s seeing an uplift of 3-5% in doing so.

Long-term Rees-John is looking to streamline the creative process for personalised content. “One of the biggest barriers to personalisation is the creative output – dynamic ads have their limits and if you have multiple segments then you need multiples of artwork. Our view is by the end of the year to have six different modules on the homepage and every person will see them in different orders but only see three at one time.”

The result will equal 720 different permutations of the website. “It isn’t a big data exchange it’s just a different experience of the brand going forward,” he said.